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This issue’s cover is from a stunning new picture book, Mary’s Secret by David McKee (Andersen Press, 0 86264 909 9, £9.99). An ecological fable about doing without cars, McKee’s story with its bright pictures full of well observed detail is set within Mary’s cheerful family and at her school. His bold, painterly illustrations use the page so confidently and dextrously that their quirky, decorative perspectives seem entirely natural. Thanks to Andersen Press for their help in producing this September cover.
For the dedicated astronomer here is the complete handbook which can contribute to night-sky study at all levels, from casual back-door-step observations on clear nights, to dusk-to-dawn telescopy. Following an introduction to the principals of the craft, its tools and basic practices come portraits of the planets and other solar system bodies and then we visit the stars. Strongest and most helpful features are the sky maps and accompanying commentary and a month by month constellation guide. With the ('free') planisphere and the excellent instructions on its use, there is more here for the 'what star is that?' enthusiast than I have ever found between two covers before. Thanks to its guidance I have been able to identify the Red Garnet star, and you have only to turn to p98 (of 144) to cepheuself how to find it. I see some illustrations are by 'Shadric Toop' - this is surely an anagram of Ric Poshtoad, whose style is unmistakable. Designed for, and probably most successful in personal ownership, a library copy could be useful, especially if replacement planispheres can be got at your local star shop.